Romania is one of the poorest countries in Europe, with 14 per cent of the population living below the poverty line.
The government has few resources to spare for children with deafblindness. Currently only three per cent of the deafblind population receives any help.
When Sense International (Romania) started in 1999 deafblindness was unrecognised and there were no services. Children were often misdiagnosed and hidden away in bleak institutions.
Since then, there has been gradual but impressive progress. Deafblindness was legally recognised in Romania in 2006 thanks to Sense International’s campaigning. As a result of this, much-needed services for deafblind people are growing.
“For the courage they have given to me and for all the hopes that they infused in my heart I would like to thank Sense International (Romania).” - Mother of a child with deafblindness
It is vital that children with deafblindess are recognised, assessed and receive specialist help as early as possible.
- Sense International played a key role in setting up a neonatal screening programme at four maternity units. Since then, over 50,000 babies have had hearing and vision screening - and babies identified as deafblind can start to get help.
- These newborns can now receive help at three Early Intervention Centres – where they receive a specialist rehabilitation programme from a range of skilled professionals.
- We have coordinated the development of an Early Intervention Curriculum for the rehabilitation of deafblind children, which has recently been approved and endorsed by the Ministry of National Education.
Sense International offers children with deafblindness the chance to be educated, with trained teachers using specialist methods and techniques.
- We convinced the Romanian government that children with deafblindness can be educated - by initially setting up two deafblind special education units and demonstrating effective teaching methods.
- We ensured that education legislation in Romania makes provision for children with deafblindness – and as a result 42 special education units for children with deafblindness have now been established.
- We have trained more than 80 teachers, 11 of whom have become National Trainers who can pass on their expertise to others.
- We have published the Callier-Azusa scales, an internationally recognised method of assessing children with deafblindness, so that the method can be used by teachers in Romania.
Campaigning and advocacy
As well as lobbying the Romanian government to give full legal recognition to deafblindness in 2006, we were also able to persuade them that children with deafblindness could - and should - be educated:
- We guaranteed through continued advocacy efforts, that a recent Education Act stipulates that children with deafblindness / MSI children should be taught in classes of no more than four pupils.
- We have coordinated the development of the National Education Curriculum for deafblind / MSI learners.
For more information about the campaigning work we're doing across Sense International visit our Campaigns section.
Our new goals
We are determined to build upon the success of our early intervention and education programmes.
- At the moment, when young people with deafblindness leave school they have few options – and often become housebound and dependent. We are piloting a new programme which will help young people with deafblindness gain greater independence, develop work skills and have the chance to hold down a job.
- We will be working in partnership with special schools and government departments in Bucharest, Galati and Iasi to select and train - in the first instance - 21 young adults with deafblindness.
Sense International (Romania)
Blv. Timisoara 27
Bl. D, Sc. B, Et. 5, Ap. 23
First published: Thursday 27 June 2013
Last updated: Tuesday 10 October 2017